Graeme Swann proved a thorn in Australia’s side yet again as England closed in on a 2-0 Ashes series lead at Lord’s in London yesterday.
The England off-spinner took two wickets as Australia collapsed to 48-3 at lunch on the fourth day of the second Test.
That left Australia, long in desperate trouble in the match, needing a further 535 runs to reach their mammoth victory target of 583 after England had declared their second innings on 349-7, with opener Joe Root making 180.
Usman Khawaja was 8 not out and Australia captain Michael Clarke, missed on 2, 11 not out.
No side has made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test than the West Indies’ 418-7 against Australia at St John’s in 2002-2003.
Australia, shot out for just 128 in their first innings, were only able to resist England for fewer than seven overs yesterday before Shane Watson was trapped leg before wicket by James Anderson for 20.
However, unlike the first innings when opening partner Chris Rogers agreed to Watson’s wasted review after he was leg before to Tim Bresnan, the all-rounder suffered the latest in his long line of leg before dismissals without challenge.
Australia’s 24-1 soon became 36-3.
Swann, who took five wickets in Australia’s first innings, struck with his fifth ball when left-hander Rogers played no shot to a delivery that did not turn, but carried straight on to hit his off-stump. Swann then had Phil Hughes trapped leg before wicket for 1.
Hughes opted for a review, but, with replays indicating the ball would have hit leg-stump, Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena’s decision was upheld.
Not for the first time, Clarke came in with Australia in dire straits and the star batsman should have been out on 2 when he went well down the pitch to Swann, only for wicketkeeper Matt Prior to miss the stumping chance.
Ashes-holders England, 1-0 up in the five-match series after their 14-run win at Trent Bridge in Nottingham last week, resumed yesterday on 333-5, already a lead of 566, with Root 178 not out and Yorkshire teammate Jonny Bairstow 11 not out.
There was no immediate declaration, with Root given the chance to get to 200.
However, after Ryan Harris took two wickets in four balls to have Bairstow caught behind and Root, trying to scoop a length ball, held at third-man, England captain Alastair Cook called a halt.
Prior to his exit, the only chance Root gave during a 338-ball innings including 18 fours and two sixes that spanned nearly eight hours was when, on 8 on Friday, he edged Watson, only for wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who made an initial movement, not to go through with taking a catch that flew between him and first slip Clarke.
On Saturday, Root revealed a barrage of good-natured abuse from his brother inspired him to destroy Australia with his majestic knock.
At 22 years, 202 days, Root became England’s youngest Ashes century-maker at Lord’s as the Yorkshire batsman recorded his second ton in just his eighth Test.
It was even sweeter for Root as his younger brother, Billy, a member of the ground staff of Marylebone Cricket Club, which owns Lord’s, served as England’s 12th man and drinks carrier for much of the day.
That meant he was subjected to some good-natured jibes.
“He has been abusing me all day bringing drinks out, so he actually had to be nice to me when I got the hundred,” Root said. “He was telling me I was scoring too slowly and saying he would have been smashing it to all parts. To be honest, it was nastier than anything said to me by Shane Watson and the Australian bowlers. It was good to share it with my family, though. My parents were here as well and I’m sure they enjoyed it.”